This week saw the beginning of the final intense rehearsals before our ‘World Premiere’ of Macmath: The Silent Page at the end of May. The first two days saw a return to Wallaceton Village Hall where we set about playing through the songs, finalizing the arrangements and structuring the set that we will perform. After the last rehearsals we had all been working independently, learning lyrics and fine tuning our parts for the songs so it was lovely to put it all together and hear the songs really coming to life.
As well as bringing the collection to life musically, the performance will incorporate information on Macmath’s background and include selected passages from his correspondence with Francis Child, the song collector for whom Macmath so feverishly set about notating and collecting the local songs of Dumfries and Galloway. Ali has worked very hard, not only to script the spoken passages, but also to thread them into the concert so that it remains informative and fun without affecting the flow of the music. Not to give anything away but I think the audience are in for a treat!
Macmath was not originally from Dumfries and Galloway but he loved the region and, like myself, considered it ‘home’ and so it has been very special to us all that we are the first to breathe life into his collection. It’s clear from the considerable number of sources that Macmath credits, that song and storytelling were an important part of daily life in nineteenth century Dumfries and Galloway. Our regions musical legacy can only benefit from this considerable re-injection of it’s traditional song and it’s exciting and an honour to be a part of that revival.
Alongside the final tweaking of the concert set we also made time for a photo shoot. Not exactly the weather for a photo shoot this week but when in Scotland! Yes, it was blustery and rainy but we did manage to get a brief break in the weather to head outside into the beautiful countryside and get some nice shots taken. So, look out for us in various press over the next few weeks in the lead up to the premiere.
The final day of rehearsals was a technical run through at Berkeley 2 Studios in Glasgow. Our three hour slot, in a building bustling with Glasgow’s finest pub bands and ‘future stars’ all busy honing their licks, was a chance to run the music through a PA system to give us a great idea of how things will sound on the night. The good news is it is all sounding great, everyone contributing and creating a synergy and ensemble sound that I’m sure William Macmath would have been very happy to listen to.
And so we parted until the next rehearsal, each one of us with our list of things to do, harmonies to remember and lyrics to memorise. We meet again in Stranraer on the day of the premiere where we will get to rehearse with the choir and our fantastic narrator for the evening, David Sumner. Although it’s already sounding fantastic, these additions will be the icing on an already exciting cake and I for one cannot wait to hear the concert. I hope you feel the same and we’ll see you there!